In a recent dinner conversation with my friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Ann Sturgis, we got to exploring the kinds of attitudes that kids need to acquire for success in life. We were talking about her grand-daughter, who is raising several pretty savvy kids, in the midst of some difficult circumstances.

I asked, "If you could pick out one absolutely key attitude that you would advise her to instill in the kids, what would it be?"

She couldn't settle on just one, so we started making an inventory list. I noticed that all of attitudes that first jumped into mind had names beginning with "A."

Authority: claiming for one's self the power to act, interact, and transact with others from one's own values, purposes, and intentions; acting from the "place of cause," rather than being "at effect"; refusing to be a victim, a martyr, a pawn, or a push-over.

Autonomy: owning one's "sense of self"; freeing one's self from emotional oppression, manipulation, or control by others; letting go of primitive, reflexive emotions such as guilt, shame, envy, jealousy, hate, revenge, and resentment; freeing one's self from the programming of the surrounding society - what Abraham Maslow referred to as resistance to enculturation.

Authenticity: staying true to yourself; standing by your beliefs; living up to the values you set for yourself; keeping your word; doing what you say you will do; "doing business" honestly and openly with others; being willing to sacrifice the convenience of the "easy way" when it's time to stand up and do the right thing.

Accountability: having and following an inner standard for one's own actions; acknowledging, accepting, and learning from one's mistakes, rather than rationalizing or trying to displace them to others; self-accountability is far more important than accountability to other people or systems.

 Adaptability: letting go of the need to be certain about everything, the need to "be perfect," and the need to always be "right"; learning to forgive yourself for making mistakes; being willing to listen to others and learn from them; realizing that most problems have more than one "right answer"; keeping your opinions permanently "on probation"; understanding that each person has his or her own "truth," and that what's true for one person might not be true for another.

The British novelist and visionary H.G. Wells said, "Civilization increasingly is a race between education and catastrophe."

Are we teaching our kids how to get straight A's in life? For that matter, how many of us adults truly understand and behave from the A-attitudes? Are our schools capable of doing it? Are parents and families capable of doing it? Or shall we continue to leave the most important life-lessons to chance?

 For more information on this topic, visit

Dr. Karl Albrecht is an executive management consultant, lecturer, futurist, and author of more than 20 books on professional achievement, organizational performance, and business strategy. He is listed by Executive Excellence Magazine as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in the area of leadership. He is a recognized expert on cognitive styles and the development of advanced thinking skills. His books Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, Practical Intelligence: The Art and Science of Common Sense, and his Mindex Thinking Style Profile are used in business and education. The Mensa society presented him with its lifetime achievement award, for significant contributions by a member to the understanding of intelligence. Originally a physicist, and having served as a military intelligence officer and business executive, he now consults, lectures, and writes about whatever he thinks would be fun.

You are reading


Will Celebrity Groper Stories Lead to a Silent Backlash?

Men in power may react defensively by adopting the "Billy Graham rule."

Science Class Isn't Working

America remains a pre-scientific culture, driven by visceral thinking

How They Crowd-Sourced the Oxford English Dictionary

Scholars in the pre-digital era foresaw the potential of crowd sourcing.